As a woman of childbearing age, settled down domestically and waiting prudently until I’m just a few steps more settled down to become a mom, I cannot express how horrified I am by the recent Royal Baby fuss. I’ve never been a great royal-watcher myself, but all this “Kate waiting” was nigh impossible to avoid.
I certainly acknowledge that Kate Middleton’s birth canal probably got more media attention in one day than my entire existence ever will. But in modern society, many women find themselves in a microcosm of the Kate Middleton hot seat, at least in their own worlds: watched and fussed over but not necessarily in an empowering way.
Pregnant women and their bodies become public property even more than women already are; the street harassment that follows women when they’re not pregnant morphs into clucking and faux concern when they are.
Expecting women’s choices are scrutinized, and the choice not to bring to term is demonized and outlawed. Women’s bellies and baby bumps are ogled, their weight gain (or lack thereof) is dissected, and we watch them at bars to see if a glass of wine reaches their lips. And none of it ends after birth: When women become moms, their parenting skills are up for judgment for eternity.
I have always wanted to have kids, and I know that there’s a lot to look forward to and that a new and inexpressible joy awaits me when my time to parent comes.
But I also very much want to be known for the contents of my mind and my heart, the things that I write and my actions in the world. Therefore I fear being made into a vessel, reduced to my biology. This facetious tweet that circulated after the birth was amusing, but only because it had a ring of truth in it — for Kate and for all of us.
Having fulfilled her royal duty, the Duchess of Cambridge will now be retired to a lovely farm in the country where she will graze freely.— Sara Benincasa (@SaraJBenincasa) July 22, 2013